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White & Case pro bono client Acumen Fund celebrates its 10th anniversary amid growing
evidence that its investment philosophy of “patient capital” is paying off for social
entrepreneurs and the clients they serve in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Founded in 2001, Acumen Fund is a nonprofit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Since 2006, 56 White & Case partners and nearly 260 lawyers and legal staff, led by New York partner Mike Smith who oversees the relationship, have worked on more than 20 deals, providing assistance on issues ranging from shareholder and subscription agreements to technology licenses and investment closings, as well as dispute resolution, fund formation and fund administration. The Firm also regularly seconds an associate to assist the in-house lawyers at Acumen Fund.

Acumen Fund defines “patient capital” as a way to bring together the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy. It makes debt or equity investments in early stage enterprises that provide low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy or agricultural resources. Acumen Fund typically commits from US$300,000 to US$2.5 million in equity or debt with payback or exit anticipated in roughly seven to ten years. This investment is accompanied by a wide range of management support services designed to nurture the company to scale. The aim is not to seek high financial returns, but to maximize social impact and jump-start scalable enterprises that deliver critical goods and services to the poor.

Acumen Fund has approved investments of more than US$72 million in 65 companies.
These companies have reached more than 86 million people, creating and supporting
more than 55,000 jobs.

Many challenges exist and neither financial nor social returns come easily or swiftly, but Acumen Fund has learned a great deal during its first ten years about how to work effectively with local entrepreneurs, governments and other constituents. We profile four investments structured with assistance from White & Case that demonstrate the promise for the next ten years.

“If our first ten years focused on proving that patient capital works, our next decade will focus on taking the idea mainstream.”
Jacqueline Novogratz,
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Acumen Fund

More about Acumen Fund Investments